Monday, December 19, 2011

The "Room for 1 More" Event; Walt Disney World's 40th Anniversary; Recap & Review

Ah, there you are...

I'm so sorry I've kept you all waiting this long, but we spirits were very busy during the months of October and November, preparing for Halloween; and in our case, the release of "Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion: 40th Anniversary Soundtrack". Add that to the workload involved in finalizing "The 13 Days Of X-mas" event and "Haunted Mansion Holiday: The Unofficial 10th Anniversary Collection" which is still being fine tuned, plus continuing work on "A Night in The Haunted Mansion", the Roller Coaster Tycoon 3  Recreation project, and more. Then I have my laundry list of up coming blog posts...lots of content to keep me busy...

       So, let's us begin with the mansion event: 'Room for 1 More' was a celebration for the Magic Kingdom's Haunted Mansion. Not exactly what you'd call a full day's outing, but with the lines we waited in, I was lucky it didn't end up that way. Aside from the length of the line at the special "Store" for the event, Disney's typical people-eating nature shined through. I was very pleased to meet a few fans of S&FS in person, and even more pleased to get to chat with some of the Mansion fans who knew what I was talking about when I said that "They had changed to vocals in the graveyard" and such. It was  very enjoyable experience, but having to wait all day to ride the Haunted Mansion was something that hindered it for me a bit. Let me begin this "abbreviated" trip report, because I still have so much on my plate to talk about from Paris, and news that has leaked about the return of the infamous Hatbox Ghost. So, where to begin...

Day 1 - Friday, September 30th, 2011 - Animal Kingdom, "Room For 1 More", and "Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party"

   Okay, so I began my day by getting up really early after flying into Orlando that previous night to go take advantage of the extra morning magic hours at Animal Kingdom. I was exhausted, but had to hit as many rides as possible since I knew the trip was going to be way shorter then last time. I knocked out Dinosaur twice, Expedition Everest twice, and Kilimanjaro Safari in a little more then an hour, and got back to the hotel; the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Jambo House; for breakfast. Expedition Everest isn't as thrilling in the daytime as it was in my first ride at night back in January, which I wrote about in a previous entry. If your ever in Animal Kingdom Lodge for breakfast, make sure to get as much Jungle Juice as possible; that stuff is to die for. Anyhow, now it was time to go an register for the event at the Contemporary.

     Oh, how it brought back memories of January, when I would take that Monorail ever single day to the Magic Kingdom, and run to the Haunted Mansion to record the Graveyard singers with my video camera mic. That's a week I'll never forget. Taking one of the buses helped me really remember what it was like back in 2000 and 2003 to have to use something other than the monorail to get around. Anyway, let's get on with the "event" stuff. We started, as I said earlier, by waiting in a line to register, and receive our thankfully not-so-heavy Mr.Toad statues, which are really nice. Throughout the event, they played the Official Disneyland "Haunted Mansion 40th Anniversary" CD on a loop, (the wrong vocals and missing music room and Library scenes. Wrong music Disney! We fans take notice of this! Your aren't fooling us! Release the new vocals!) Once we got our products, we roamed around, looked in the amazing art gallery, and got pictures taken for our "ghostly photo opportunity" that was done in front of a green-screen. And after this, we left to go get in costume for the night's festivities. Here is a panorama of the entrance to the "Great Hall" that the dinner would take place:

     So, we arrived back in a hour or two and it was getting dark our, and we entered the hallway above which was now filled with plenty of Mansion Fans, many in costume, waiting to enter. While waiting, they again were playing the Disneyland "Haunted Mansion 40th Anniversary" CD on a loop, but I swore I could hear the rumbling bass of a real organ from somewhere within the building. Finally, we were permitted to enter, and walking in was one of the most amazing things I ever experienced. The rumble of live pipe organ (okay, it was probably a multi-keyboard set up with a lot of sub-woofers) with a man dressed as the organist from the ballroom at the keys. It was macabre magic at it's finest. Here is what the inside looked like, panorama style:

    The organist provided music while I ate and spoke to the mansion fans around my table about topics like Haunted Mansion Holiday, D23, the new Del Toro Film, and other things. The food was much better then I had anticipated. Extra entertainment was provided by the "Ghost Host", a mustached character, and "Diggs" the mentally insane Caretaker. Bellow, you can take a listen to the Organist playing a few sections that I had to record, because I am a fan of "Phantom", and the rest were filler for you all to enjoy:

    I would like to point out how the background is clearly a projection or LED screen. Very convincing, like the Library murals. They were running a slideshow most of the night on the two screens seen on ether side of the organist in the panorama above that consisted of's desktop wallpapers with the logo removed. Pretty lazy of them if you ask me. But we can't have it perfect every time. At least they had finally stopped playing the 40th CD. The highlight of the night was hearing Imagineers Jason Surrell, Jason Grandt, Pete Carsillo and Eric Goodman talk for about an hour, explaing things about the new queuing area, the updated Hitchhiking ghosts, and showing off unseen pics from the archives on the slideshow. I did film the entire presentation, but rendering and editing it has fallen behind on my list of things to get done, and their are plenty of videos up of it already, so it's not like I'm in any hurry, when these are to some extent, better then mine:

     They revealed a lot of things about the new additions. I personally enjoyed hearing about the idea of a "Nursery" that got axed as soon as it was mentioned for the Re-Haunting. I was a bit disappointed that Tony Baxter wasn't there, but hey, we got Jason Surrell at least, so that was one familiar face. So much was revealed, you might as well watch Ricky's video above instead of waiting for mine if you haven't already seen it. You can also check out Inside the Magic's report here. Anyhow, we jump to the the Magic Kingdom now, for the Halloween Party.

   So, we finally entered the gates of the Magic Kingdom! I was just dying to get to the Mansion by that point in time. After waiting nearly the entire day, I finally got to see the new effects that had been added right after I left in January. But we'll talk about that in day two, since the Halloween Party is a one night thing. So, we ended up missing "Hallowishes" due to the event letting us out a little late, which was a disappointment; but the decorations and party exclusive area music was awesome! They were playing the Police's "Message in A Bottle" by Pirates of the Caribbean! Talk about awesome! The night was also my first time getting on Walt Disney World's Splash Mountain. Every time I was there, it seemed it was closed. Since I had only been on the Disneyland version 22 times prior, I was excited to see what this version would hold in store. I liked it, but the new safety bars were a hindrance on the air-time. Over all, the music is more catchy here, but I like Disneyland's "Ride better"; wear as I like Walt Disney World's "Show" better. Also, I took an awesome on-ride photo, hitchhiking ghost style.
I was limited to how much I could do in the allotted time, but I ended up spending most of it taking advantage of Splash Mountain's non-existent lines. I left the party around 12:45, strangling behind a bit. Tomorrow, it would be back to the Magic Kingdom again for the 40th Anniversary of Walt Disney World.

Day 2 - Saturday, October 1st, 2011 - The 40th Anniversary of Walt Disney World

   I think I got off to a later start that morning. The Magic Kingdom was extremely busy with people fighting for cupcakes in the bakery that were special "40th Anniversary" breakfast items. So, it took about 45 minutes to get my fruit cup for breakfast. Then, I headed over to the Haunted Mansion. Let's take a look at the new effects, shall we?

   The new graveyard. Let me just start by saying it's a matter of "do I want to have a bit of fun, or get on the ride already?" Don't be surprised if on a busy day, the new "interactive" area is empty. The lines seemed to just pack off into which ever way looked less crowded; which was sometimes the direct path, and sometimes, the new area. The new que area has it's pluses and minuses, but overall, I see the addition as a pretty nice one. It really doesn't take anything from the atmosphere. Heck, if nobody is in there, you really won't hear much from it. The instruments only play if touched for at most, 5 seconds, and then you have to press again, or they go silent. The Prudence Pock tomb didn't seem to be working while I was there. The sailor tomb is odd, but fits in better than I would have thought possible. The best part is the new tombstones along the hill. The graveyard much more resembles the one you see in the finale now, sprawling over the hillside and beyond.

   The new hitchhikers are pretty neat, but for someone who rides alone most of the time on a ten-or-more rides-at-a-time basis, they really don't do much more then the old ones to liven up the scene. Let's just say the novelty wears off if you ride to much. They become a part of the ride that you come to expect, just like the old ones, and not something you get all excited to see "Oh what animation will I get this time" and such. But that's not a bad thing, because like floating Leota, Constance, the Endless Staircase, the new stretching room, and the portrait hallway, the novelty wore off, but they are still all part of the ride. (It's worth noting that to me, the new vocalists in the graveyard's novelty has not worn off, because I love them so much, and am so determined to hear each one clearly on a full loop; Randy Thorton, I urge you to make them present on the next CD!) And because I love the ride, they are there, and they all feel right after a while, once the novelty of being new wears off. They do look much more real in person then in video, so please, until you've seen them for yourself, don't be judging them.

Anyhow, part of my day on that 40th Anniversary was spent talking to a former Haunted Mansion CM (or Butler if you prefer) and Facebook friend of mine, Tim, who shared his knowledge and insight with me on the park, management, and rides. He told me a lot of information I hadn't heard before, and also got me in the "Secret Corridor" that is part of Walt Disney World's Mansion. It was cool to yet again, meet with people who I've met online through my site and through the interest of the Haunted Mansion in person. Thanks for making my day more interesting then the typical day in the Magic Kingdom Tim! Above, you can see the Haunted Mansion still draws in fairly long waits on the weekends. This line above was about 30 minutes.

   Also, I must report that Pirates of the Carribean, which was suffering from neglect in January 2011, has been patched up really well! (Looks like all that complaining back in January wasn't a waste, somebody heard me) They fixed it up when they installed Blackbeard, and it's looking better then normal! (Not really something to get too excited about. It's condition is still the worst of the four incarnations) We got lucky, and out boat got backed up because of a "protein spill", and we got to witness the entire loop of the Musical Trio play out. Check it out, an notice how they are indeed using a new musical score that was added in 2007, not the version you hear near Jack at the end that was used in this scene prior to the movie overlay:

   If anyone really wants to hear about my last day at MGM Studios... oh, wait, I forgot, that's Hollywood Studios now; I'll write about it later. Star Tours II is pretty cool, and Tower of Terror and Rock'N Roller Coaster are pretty awesome. But that's not really something I think everyone here wants to hear about. I've got things I have to do, so, until next time, I'll see you all a little later...


   Oh yes, there's a little matter I forgot to mention: If you have Google plus, S&FS now has a page there. So go join our "Circles" or whatever they call them, there, on Google Plus.

1 comment:

  1. Good report - it's nice to see a fairly positive review of the event. I hadn't heard that they used my old desktops for a slideshow... someone should have just emailed me and I would have sent them a much nicer set of images. But I guess it's an honor of sorts, nonetheless. Sounds like a great trip.